Flourish: Defining the Church's Role in Creation

Day 3 of 6 • This day’s reading

Devotional

Dominion Over Earth


When God gave people dominion over his creation, He permitted us to use its resources to sustain ourselves, grow our families, and thrive with the rest of His creation as we populated the earth. As humans are wont to do, we did not keep in line with God’s intentions all that well. In taking dominion, we have plundered the earth, using its resources to make some rich and others slaves. 


Our dominion over the earth has created a system that often causes harm or benefits people unequally. We see it in wealthy companies that exploit workers in order to make big profits. Take, for instance, those who work in the factories where our clothes and shoes are made; they could not afford to purchase those items with the wages they earn. Yet we continue to buy the products, perpetuating the system. Not only does the economy perpetuate inequality, but we have also bought into a system that utilizes resources in unethical or wasteful ways.  


Throwaway culture


Throwaway culture is a human behavior born out of mass consumerism, with capitalism as the driver. This is how the economy of throwaway culture works: Instead of creating durable products that can be repaired, sellers offer goods that have a short product life cycle so that buyers must come back again and again. 


A consumer’s money never goes very far, however, this system thrives because we, the buyers, demand abundant and convenient access to goods and products. 


Kingdom culture


What would Jesus say about the current culture’s dominion of the earth? What would he think about our smartphones that constantly go out of fashion with each new addition? What would he say about our coffee pod machines, and the amounts of single-use plastic trash that they create? How would he feel about the tons of expired food that is thrown out every day, while hunger is increasing in some of the poorest nations?    


These are questions that we must ask ourselves. This world belongs to everyone. God never intended that some would flourish at the expense of others. If we can curb our desires for overabundant, convenient goods we might be able to redirect this throwaway culture that isn’t aligned with God’s design for us. 


CASE STUDY: Haiti


A development project in Haiti was undergoing an evaluation of its environmental impact. At first, some of the engineers couldn’t understand why this needed to happen. After all, the project would be a benefit to the community ⏤ they were building schools, repairing roads, installing terraces for planting crops on steep hillsides, and reinforcing river banks to protect farms, houses, and bridges. To them, the benefits of the work outweighed any possible harms.


But the evaluation revealed the unintentional side effects of the project. Up to that point, no one had given much thought to the source of the construction materials. It turned out that some of the suppliers were mining rock from an illegal quarry, destabilizing the side of a hill that threatened to collapse on houses below. As the purchaser of those construction materials, the project managers had to take responsibility for perpetuating a risky situation. 


God’s Word shows us that we are responsible for the side effects of our actions, even if they are unintentional. 


ACTION:


Look around your home and make a list of some of your favorite products. Research how they are sourced and determine if those who create the products use ethical means.